Fellow Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans may remember the annual Turkey Day marathons that aired during the Comedy Central years. I missed out on these because I didn’t catch the fever until the Scifi Channel era. Fortunately for me, creator Joel Hodgson will be hosting an online Turkey Day marathon this year to mark the show’s 25th anniversary. Hodgson will be selecting the episodes and I can only hope he chooses Pod People and Final Sacrifice, the best episodes from the Joel and Mike eras respectively. Depending on whether Aaron Rodgers returns in time for next Thursday’s game against Detroit, this may be my best option for Thanksgiving entertainment.
Some Star Trek fans like to dress up as Klingons or Starfleet officers. Others like to write long-form essays that posit an economic theory of Star Trek. Rick Webb does an excellent job of explaining how a post-capitalist, post-scarcity economy might evolve from democratic traditions and a greatly expanded welfare state. In such a society, it could be perfectly acceptable for people to not work since everyone has access to the resources needed to live comfortably. Instead, people are motivated to seek personal enrichment and fulfillment. For some people, this might mean joining Starfleet. For others, it might mean becoming a competitive 3-D chess player.
It’s an economic theory that perhaps relies on an overly sunny view of human nature, but Webb makes it sound plausible. As he points out, we already are on the threshold of a post-scarcity economy, but we do a crappy job of allocating those resources. If we look at Star Trek through Webb’s critical prism, the implications are clear: humanity can do better.
Drop everything you’re doing and get yourself over to Texts from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a brilliant mashup of innocent-looking stills from ST: TNG and rather less innocent text messages. This one is my favorite:
Most of my comics reading is done at Comixology. It works well enough, but I don’t actually own the comics I purchase on Comixology. Instead, I’m paying for a license to read specific comics files stored on Comixology’s servers. If I lost Internet access or if Comixology goes out of business, I lose access to my collection. It’s another example of digital rights management (DRM) that inconveniences paying customers like me while doing nothing to discourage piracy. But unless I want to pirate (which I don’t), it’s the only way to get the digital comics I want.
That is, until Image Comics, publisher of notable titles like The Walking Dead and the excellent Saga, began selling DRM-free comics on its own site. I tried out the store last night and, while the layout needs some improvement, it delivers as promised. I can download my comics in a number of formats and read them on my PC or iPad. And I own the actual digital file. The selection at the store is still paltry, but Image is promising to add more current and back issues.
I’m hoping that Marvel and DC will eventually follow suit and offer DRM-free comics. Digital music went through a similar evolution when the industry realized that customers will gladly pay for content that doesn’t come with burdensome restrictions. Hopefully, the comics industry is coming to the same realization.
I finally got around to watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones–the one featuring the now-infamous Red Wedding scene. It’s a pivotal scene in the books and could have easily descend into melodrama in the hands of less capable television writers. But the scene is executed perfectly and achieves a visceral shock that few other episodes of serial television have rivaled. Even though I knew what would transpire, I still gasped when the sheer brutality of the scene unfolded before me. And judging from the reaction on the Internet, fans of the show who haven’t read the books were even more deeply affected. It’s a testament to both the quality of George R.R. Martin’s writing and the skill of those adapting it to the screen.
Matt Smith announced that he will be leaving Doctor Who at the end of the year, sending fans into yet another perennial state of mourning. While I remain partial to the David Tennant iteration of the good Doctor, I enjoyed Smith’s goofy charm and bow tie fetish. Of course, I can’t refrain from some idle speculation about the next Doctor. I’d love to see Idris Elba in the role, but I suspect he’s gone a bit too Hollywood to be lured back into a weekly series. And while a female Doctor is long overdue, the writers may not be ready to move beyond the current dynamic of a reasonably handsome male Doctor paired with an attractive female companion. But I would be happy to be proven wrong.
Over at Slate, blogger and fellow geek Matt Yglesias offers a strong defense of Star Trek and its various iterations. He argues that what continues to make Trek relevant is its firm grounding in progressive values. It offers a vision of a better future that has been made possible by hard work and a commitment to improving the condition of the human race. He then goes on to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of each series. He even says some nice things about the much-maligned Voyager.
While my cynicism can sometimes get the best of me, I’ve always appreciated the shiny future depicted in Trek. It seemed like it might be possible to live in a precursor to that world and, in many ways, we do. Star Wars is also wonderful, but its universe can be heavy on the feudalism (what with all the knights and princesses and mystical powers). In the world of Trek, success is determined by smarts and competence; everything else is secondary. That’s a world I want to keep visiting.
Having thoroughly conquered the American cinematic landscape, Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios have decided to focus their superhuman powers on television. ABC has picked up Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a new series focusing on the spy agency from The Avengers film and countless comics. The trailer below looks promising and I’m curious to see how much of the existing Marvel Universe will make an appearance. It seems unlikely that Thor or Spiderman would star in an episode, but perhaps we’ll get a Gambit or Black Widow.
Any guess on how many seasons this will last? It’s certainly got geek cred and all the power of Disney behind it, so the show may have staying power. Or it could flop hard if it can’t connect with viewers.
I’m not in the habit of posting car commercials, but this car commercial features Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto and enough geek references to choke a tribble. And check out the hair on Nimoy! Are those plugs? Either way, he looks damn fine for an octogenarian. Perhaps he could provide some nutritional counseling to Shatner.
Sadly, this is probably the closest we’ll get to seeing them together in another Trek movie.
I’ll leave it others to blog about the grim news unfolding in suburban Boston. Instead, here’s an amusing clip of Harrison Ford and Chewbacca airing things out on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Because sometimes humor is the only way to cope with the insanity.
Of course, I’d like to see Ford in the next Star Wars movie. And I’m guessing he feels the same way.